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Top US general says sending ATACMS to Ukraine not as risky as before

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 29, 2024 7:22 PM 2 min read
Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is fired during a joint training between the United States and South Korea on Oct. 5, 2022, at an undisclosed location. (South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
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The risk of escalation related to the supply of long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles to Ukraine is not as high as it used to be, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Charles Brown said on March 28, according to Defense One.

After months of deliberation, the U.S. delivered ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in October 2023, but only the older model with a range of 165 kilometers. Newer variants of ATACMS have a maximum range of around 300 kilometers and have so far not been provided to Ukraine.

In late February, NBC News reported that the White House is ready to provide Kyiv with longer-range ATACMS missile variants if Congress approves a new funding package. Brown did not officially confirm nor deny the claims.

The general said that due to Russia's restrained response to a series of recent Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries, the Pentagon has adjusted "its analysis on the risk of sending ATACMS."

"The risk of escalation is not as high as maybe it was at the beginning," Brown told reporters.

The likelihood of "escalation" is based on different capabilities and different actions, the general said, adding that the Pentagon "pays attention" to them.

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War Notes

The shorter-range ATACMS missiles were put to use on the battlefield after their delivery in October 2023. Oleksiy Danilov, at the time the National Security and Defense Council secretary, said the ATACMS had "exceeded expectations" and created a noticeable impact on Russia's military operations.

Ukraine has continued to press its Western allies for longer-range weapons, including the newer ATACMS, but faced hesitation about delivering arms that could potentially be used to strike within Russian territory.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed concern in 2022 that delivering ATACMS could increase tensions between the U.S. and Russia to the point that it could lead to another world war.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is against sending Germany's Taurus missiles to Kyiv because he fears the move will draw Germany into the war. Ukraine has received other long-range missiles, such as the Storm Shadow from the U.K. and the French-made SCALP.

Taurus missiles: Why Ukraine wants them – and Germany hesitates
When faced with questions from German lawmakers on March 13, Chancellor Olaf Scholz once again said “no” to the delivery of the Taurus long-range missile to Ukraine. “Prudence is not something that one can qualify as a weakness. Prudence is something that the citizens of our country are entitled to…
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